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Secretary's Message

August 10, 2012

Wansley WaltersDear DJJ team members:


Welcome to my weekly letter. Please allow me to share some recent news and announcements.


THE RAP ON PAR: Protective action response (PAR) indicates use of conflict de-escalation techniques in juvenile justice facilities. DJJ emphasizes a restraint-free environment through effective behavior management, including positive, respectful relationships and vigilant, proactive supervision of youth. Staff is encouraged to intervene before an argument or fight occurs, using verbal intervention to resolve disagreements rather than physical PAR techniques and mechanical restraints. As a result, the average PAR rate for physical intervention (including mechanical restraints) in Residential programs continues to drop dramatically. The fiscal year (FY) 2011-12 PAR rate is 1.71. This reflects a continued trend of decrease: -20.83% compared to FY 2010-11; -35.96% from FY 2009-10; and -53.78% from FY 2008-09. Even more impressive is the decrease in use of mechanical restraints, which has dropped an amazing 83.33% since FY 2008-09 to a rate of .04 for FY 2011-12. Reducing the use of physical PAR interventions with youth results in fewer injuries to youth and staff, improved outcomes for youth, higher morale and avoidance of medical and worker’s compensation costs. Thanks to all programs for continuing efforts to reduce and eliminate the use of physical restraint!


RESIDENTIAL KUDOS: Kudos to the following Residential programs (state-run and contract providers) for having no physical PARs in the fourth quarter of FY 2011-12:

  • Polk Halfway House
  • Spring Lake Academy
  • Youth Environmental Services
  • Eckerd Challenge
  • St. Johns Academy
  • Union Juvenile Residential Facility
  • Pensacola Boys' Base
  • Big Cypress Youth Environment Services
  • Okeechobee Girls Academy
  • Columbus Juvenile Residential Facility Sex Offender Program
  • Francis Walker Halfway House

Congratulations to the following programs for significantly decreasing physical PAR interventions:

  • Kissimmee Juvenile Correctional Facility Sex Offender Program
  • Hillsborough Girls Academy
  • Youth Environmental Services
  • Spring Lake Academy

CONGRATULATIONS: The following will graduate today from basic officer training at the Florida Public Safety Institute in Tallahassee. To become certified juvenile justice probation officers (JPOs), they successfully completed 196 hours of training.

Stacie Bostick, Circuit 5, Unit 401
Valeree Clark, Circuit 13, Unit 103
Carlos Coronado, Jr., Circuit 11, Unit 109
Charmain Cosme, Circuit 6, Unit 207
Kimberly Dandeneau, Circuit 6, Unit 209
Jonathan Darby, Circuit 9, Unit 105
Lawrence Genous, Circuit 19, Unit 101
Teyaqua Gunn, Circuit 13, Unit 105
Kenutia Hamilton, Circuit 6, Unit 203
Clifford LeBlanc, Circuit 11, Unit 113
Michael Levin, Circuit 19, Unit 201
Armando Rivera, Circuit 7, Unit 304
Patrice Smith, Circuit 9, Unit 102
Analicia Taylor, Circuit 9, Unit 101
Meghan Thrasher, Circuit 5, Unit 401
John Trieb, Circuit 12, Unit 301
John Williams, Circuit 6, Unit 101

PROBATION KUDOS: The following JPO graduates volunteered at the Back to School Rally that was held on July 28 at Jake Gaither Community Center in Tallahassee. In addition to speaking with attendees about the juvenile justice system, they also had the opportunity to talk with Circuit 2 JPOs and hear about the officers’ field experiences. Special thanks go to the volunteers for cleaning up after the rally; they disassembled the booths, put away the tables and chairs, and swept and mopped the floor.

Stacie Bostick
Carlos Coronado, Jr.
Kimberly Dandeneau
Teyaqua Gunn
Kenutia Hamilton
Clifford LeBlanc
Michael Levin
Meghan Thrasher
John Trieb
John Williams

EDUCATION UPDATE: DJJ is committed to the educational and vocational success of youth in the juvenile justice system. Did you know that youth in DJJ  Detention centers and Residential programs attend school Monday through Friday, year-round? Here are some fresh facts from the DJJ Office of Education regarding FY 2011-12.

While in a DJJ Residential program or Detention facility:

  • 32,774 children received education services;
  • 152 youth earned a standard diploma;
  • 14 special-needs youth earned a special diploma; and
  • 622 youth earned a GED. 


Additionally, due to DJJ’s increased focus on vocational services, 936 industry-recognized certificates in skills such as Microsoft Office Specialist, NCCER Core, and Safe Food Handling were earned by youth in Residential placement. Although DJJ served almost 4,000 fewer kids in FY 2010-11 due to the decreasing number of youth in the juvenile justice system, the number of diplomas, GEDs and vocational certificates increased. This shows that youth are leaving the juvenile justice system better prepared to enter the workforce or continue their education.

RESIDENTIAL KUDOS II: The Home Builders Institute (HBI) students at Okeechobee Girls Academy (OGA), in partnership with G4S Youth Services, recently participated in a project for Habitat for Humanity of Okeechobee. The students used their trade skills to help a family in need – a single mother and her three children. The girls worked hard and diligently repaired the home. They painted the interior and exterior of the home, installed doors, door knobs and hardware, replaced electrical covers and caulked the counter tops, bathtub, and window sills. During the dedication ceremony, the HBI students donated a hand-crafted picnic table they built to the family as a gift. Many thanks to the students as well as HBI Project Coordinator Roberta Pace, HBI Coordinator Shannon Shirts, HBI Vocational Instructor Allen Hazellief, G4S Direct Care Staff Tierra Allen, G4S Facility Administrator Demetria Refoure and G4S Regional Director George Newsome for their participation in this worthy effort. Photos are below.


HBI-photo1 HBI-photo2


PROBATION KUDOS II: On August 7, Chief Probation Officer (CPO) Adrienne Conwell received the following letter of appreciation and commendation for JPO Melissa Fuller.

As a representative of Rasmussen College in New Port Richey, Florida, and as the Faculty Advisor of the American Criminal Justice Association, I wish to thank the Department of Juvenile Justice for assisting our students as they pursue their ambitions. Melissa Fuller presented a program to our juvenile justice class that was simply outstanding. Her overview of the Juvenile Probation division was complete and detailed. Equally impressive was her enthusiasm and ability to capture the attention of the students and encourage their curiosity. The passion for her work is clear and contagious. The students have already asked if she will come back to present again in the future. We are grateful and appreciative of her time and effort. She was motivational and she had significant impact on the students and myself.


Jerry W. Lee, M.A., J.D.
Justice Studies Program Coordinator

DJJ IN THE NEWS: Prevention Specialist Lydia Breaux-Davis and Circuit 1 CPO Paul Wallis were guest speakers for Escambia County’s “Bridging the Gap” conference, which focused on juvenile crime prevention. Click here to read media coverage of this event.

VOLUNTEER SPOTLIGHT: Pinellas Regional Juvenile Detention Center (RJDC) Superintendent Monica Gray is grateful for the service of Volunteer Chaplain John Duebel, who has been assisting DJJ youth in the Pinellas County area for the past four years. Recently, a former DJJ youth mentored by Chaplain Duebel returned to Pinellas RJDC and shared his inspiring story with youth in the facility. As a juvenile he said he had been held at the center many times. At age 17 he decided something had to change in his life. He thought, “I’m tired of living life my way; I’m ready to try God’s way.” After his release he contacted Chaplain Duebel for a ride to church and began faithfully attending. He tried several ways to get his life moving in a different direction. He attempted to enlist in the Army, but was rejected because of his felony record. He applied for a dozen jobs without any success. Still he didn’t give up. Finally, decided to give college a try. In spite of dropping out of school twice, he had finished with a high grade point average. Chaplain Duebel suggested the young man consider attending a Christian college and helped out when he decided to apply to Liberty University in Virginia. The young man was admitted and is currently in his junior year. He has completely turned his life around. Aside from sharing his success story with youth at Pinellas RJDC, the young man has participated in an inner-city ministry in Lynchburg, Va., and counseled his younger brothers to help them make better decisions and avoid conflict with the law. Congratulations to the young man on turning his life around, and thanks go to Chaplain Duebel for his caring service in mentoring troubled youth to become successful adults.

My sincere and heartfelt thanks go to all employees, stakeholders and volunteers who improve the lives of youth involved with the juvenile justice system. Enjoy the weekend.


Wansley Walters



PS: Please send any noteworthy or newsworthy items for consideration in my weekly letter to Communications Director C. J. Drake at cj.drake@djj.state.fl.us or call 850.921.5905. Submissions are considered on a space-available basis and may be edited for clarity and length. Thank you for your cooperation.